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109-2016 Working Towards a New Urban First Nations Strategy

on May 10, 2017

TITLE: Working Towards a New Urban First Nations Strategy

SUBJECT: Urban

MOVED BY: Chief Cameron Catchway, Skownan First Nation, MB

SECONDED BY: Chief Jean Guy Whiteduck, Kitisgan Zibi Anishinabeg, QC

DECISION Carried; 1 abstention

WHEREAS:

A. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:

  • Article 4: Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
  • Article 21 (1): Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security.
  • Article 21 (2): States shall take effective measures and, where appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities.

B. In 1998 the Government of Canada introduced its Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS) which was categorized as a government-wide policy. Even as late as the spring of 2003 no publicly available document specified the actual “strategy”. However, the federal government indicated that the UAS was the means by which it would address urban Aboriginal issues “through greater internal coordination of federal activities and through partnerships with provinces, municipalities and Aboriginal stakeholders.”

C. Previous funding authorities for the UAS have not adequately provided programs and services to properly address the needs of urban First Nations residents.

D. In 2006 the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) for the purposes of delivering services to urban First Nations.

E. In 2010 the AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly passed AFN Resolution 18/2010, which supports the development of a First Nation Urban Strategy and the establishment of a First Nation Urban Strategy Advisory Committee.

F. As of April 2014, the Government of Canada provides $43 million per year to the NAFC, which launches an annual call for proposals from urban Aboriginal and other non-profit organizations for the purpose of Community Capacity Support and Urban Partnerships. The NAFC is required to post all accepted proposals on its website. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) administers $8.1 million of UAS funding through a targeted call for proposals, which supports the development of regional and community strategic plans to guide funding provided by the NAFC.

G. Budget 2016 announced $23.7 million for the UAS in 2016-2017, which included an engagement process mandated by the Government of Canada to identify ways to strengthen the UAS and more effectively meet the needs of urban Aboriginal peoples.

H. The engagement process undertaken by INAC had a limited scope and insufficient timeframes and was not designed in a manner that would effectively address long term First Nation needs. As a result, the AFN received funding to conduct two engagement sessions (one in Edmonton and one in Montreal) that had limited participation and did not allow for fulsome review and discussion of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN)/ NAFC Memorandum of Understanding, or to develop a First Nations position on the UAS.

I. Recommendations received from First Nation participants at these two forums included: the need to engage with AFN membership and relevant First Nation stakeholders on urban priorities, programs and services consistent with the AFN Resolution 18/2010; that “urban” is not limited to major cities but also includes smaller rural cities; and the need to address the lack of accountability and transparency with the current UAS funding delivery mechanism.

J. The current UAS extension is set to expire on March 31, 2017 with no new strategy in place or plan to extend the current strategy. The extension of the UAS for 2016-2017 reduced the overall budget available to $23.7 million.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
that the Chiefs-in-Assembly:

1. Call on Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to extend the Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS) through 2017-2018 with funding restored to $51 million per year.
2. Call on INAC to ensure that 2017-18 UAS funding be provided to and administered by First Nation governance structures that are nation based, regionally supported, relevant to local circumstance, able to deliver urban First Nation services, and acceptable to First Nations.
3. Call on INAC to rename the UAS to the Urban and Rural Indigenous Strategy.
4. Direct the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to carry out AFN Resolution 18/2010 and create a First Nation Urban Strategy through a First Nation Urban Strategy Advisory Committee with regional representation.
5. Call on INAC to fund additional AFN regional engagement to assist the development of a long term, sustainable First Nations Urban and Rural Strategy by November 2017, to be included in AFN’s federal budget submission for 2017-18.
6. Direct the AFN to continue to advocate for a nation to nation relationship between the Crown and First Nations governance structures to ensure that the needs of First Nations are met regardless of residency.

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Angie Turner109-2016 Working Towards a New Urban First Nations Strategy

83-2016 National Advisory Committee on INAC’s Child Welfare Reform Engagement Strategy

on May 9, 2017

TITLE: National Advisory Committee on INAC’s Child Welfare Reform Engagement Strategy

SUBJECT: Child Welfare

MOVED BY: Chief Lynn Acoose, Sakimay First Nation, SK

SECONDED BY: Chief Arnold Paul, Temagami First Nation, ON

DECISION Carried by Consensus

WHEREAS:

A. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) states:

  • Article 15 (2): States shall take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society.
  • Article 17 (2): States shall in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples take specific measures to protect indigenous children from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development, taking into account their special vulnerability and the importance of education for their empowerment.

B. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action #1 and #3 affirm the need to address First Nation child welfare reform and to fully implement Jordan’s Principle. The Prime Minister of Canada has formally agreed to implement all of the Calls to Action.

C. In 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (the Caring Society) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) filed a complaint pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act alleging that Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s (INAC) provision of First Nations child and family services to over 163,000 First Nations children is discriminatory and that implementation of Jordan’s Principle is flawed, inequitable and thus discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRT 1340/7008).

D. On January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) issued its decision (2016 CHRT 2) regarding the complaint filed in February 2007 by the Caring Society and the AFN. The CHRT substantiated the complaint and concluded that First Nations children and families living on reserve and in the Yukon are discriminated against in the provision of child and family services by INAC and further found that Canada’s implementation of Jordan’s Principle is discriminatory. In its decision, the CHRT made several orders, including:

  • Cease its discriminatory practices, and reform the First Nation Child and Family Services program (FNCFS).
  • Cease applying a narrow definition of Jordan’s Principle.
  • Take measures to immediately implement the full meaning and scope of Jordan’s Principle.

E. Shortly after the CHRT January 26, 2016 decision, the AFN and the Caring Society initiated discussions with INAC to re-establish the National Advisory Committee (NAC) and Regional Tables to oversee recommendations for medium and long term relief related to the CHRT decision and to provide general advice on program reform. The NAC and Regional Tables is a joint committee composed of First Nations child and family service experts appointed by AFN Regional Chiefs, the AFN, the Caring Society, and INAC. This process was used for the Joint National Policy Review of First Nations Child and Family Services (2000) and the Wen:de reports in 2005. INAC agreed to the process in general but failed to respond to correspondence in a timely fashion resulting in substantial and unnecessary delays in establishing the NAC.

F. On both April 26, 2016, and September 14, 2016, INAC was issued with two supplemental rulings from the CHRT. The CHRT found that INAC compliance to the rulings was inadequate. The CHRT made further specific orders regarding FNCFS funding and ordered Canada to apply Jordan’s Principle to all First Nations children on and off reserve, to cease case conferencing before the child receives the service and apply it to all jurisdictional disputes.

G. In response to Canada’s failure to fully comply with the CHRT orders, the NDP tabled an opposition motion on October 27, 2016 calling on the government to comply with the historic rulings of the CHRT ordering the end of discrimination against First Nations children. On November 1, 2016, the NDP motion was unanimously passed by the House of Commons. The motion specifically called for the government to:

  • Immediately investing an additional $155 million in new funding for the delivery of child welfare – the identified shortfall for this year – and establish a funding plan for future years that will end the systemic shortfalls in First Nations child welfare.
  • Implement the full definition of Jordan’s Principle as outlined in a resolution passed by the House on December 12, 2007.
  • Fully complying with all orders made by the CHRT and stop fighting Indigenous families in court who are seeking access to services covered by the federal government.
  • Make public all pertinent documents related to the overhaul of child welfare and the implementation of Jordan’s Principle.

H. On October 27, 2016, without consulting with the AFN or the Caring Society, INAC Minister Carolyn Bennett appointed a Ministerial Special Representative on First Nations child and family services (MSR) whose role is to advise the government as it executes its engagement strategy with provinces, territories and child welfare agencies to overhaul the FNFCS program.

I. To date, these engagement processes have been led by the MSR, without consultation with the AFN or the Caring Society. To date, the engagement process appears to be have been conducted in an ad hoc manner, absent any terms of reference or accountability mechanisms, needed to clarify the goals and outcomes of the MSR and ensure the work is conducted in a manner consistent with the UN Declaration and domestic law.

J. In the spirit of Article 15 (2) and 17 (2) of the UN Declaration, accountable engagement processes should be meaningful and guided by clear terms of reference developed in consultation with First Nations and First Nations child and family service agencies that clearly outline the intent, scope, impacts and accountability mechanisms of the engagement. Such procedures have been lacking throughout INAC’s engagement plan.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED
that the Chiefs-in-Assembly:

1. Express deep concern regarding Canada’s failure to immediately and fully comply with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) decision.
2. Call on Canada to immediately comply with any and all orders issued by the CHRT without reservation.
3. Fully support the opposition motion passed in the House of Commons on November 1, 2016 and call on Canada to take immediate steps to fully comply with the motion.
4. Call on Canada to affirm that the National Advisory Committee (NAC) and Regional Tables process proposed by Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society is the legitimate process to provide advice to the Chiefs and federal government on First Nations child and family services reform and the implementation on Jordan’s Principle.
5. Call on Canada to immediately provide the information, resources and support necessary for the NAC and Regional Tables process to convene and complete their work.
6. Inform Canada that the Ministerial Special Representative on First Nations child and family services (MSR) engagement process is not a replacement for the NAC and Regional Tables process and in no way should prejudice Canada’s full and proper compliance with the CHRT decisions.
7. Call on Canada to immediately refocus the mandate of the MSR to enhance the internal capacity of INAC and other federal departments to implement the CHRT decisions (2016 CHRT 2; 2016 CHRT10; 2016 CHRT 16 and any further orders) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action. This includes, but is not limited to, shifting Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada operating culture to promote non-discrimination, reconciliation, and observance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples and the Organization of American States American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, by designing and delivering professional training and performance measures for every member of the civil service up to and including Deputy Ministers along with any of its agents, successors or assigns related to the provision of services to First Nations peoples on and off reserves.

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Angie Turner83-2016 National Advisory Committee on INAC’s Child Welfare Reform Engagement Strategy

62-2016 Full and Proper Implementation of the historic Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decisions in the provision of child welfare services and Jordan’s Principle

on May 9, 2017

TITLE: Full and Proper Implementation of the historic Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decisions in the provision of child welfare services and Jordan’s Principle

SUBJECT: Child Welfare

MOVED BY: Cheryl Casimer, Proxy, Tobacco Plains Indian Band, BC

SECONDED BY: Chief Ian Campbell, Squamish Nation, BC

DECISION Carried by Consensus

WHEREAS:

A. The Federal Government of Canada funds First Nations child and family services on reserve through Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

B. Jordan’s Principle is a child-first principle which provides, in the matter of public services available to all other children, that where jurisdictional disputes arise between Canada and a province or territory, or between government departments in the same government, the government or department of first contact pays for the service, and can seek reimbursement from another government or department after the fact.

C. As an example, First Nations children in British Columbia are funded in accordance with Directive 20-1 which provides the lowest level of child welfare funding among INAC’s four funding approaches. This means that culturally based prevention services to keep children safely at home are not available, contributing to growing numbers of children in foster care.

D. In 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (the Caring Society) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) filed a complaint pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act alleging that INAC’s provision of First Nations child and family services to over 163,000 First Nations children is discriminatory and that implementation of Jordan’s Principle is flawed, inequitable and thus discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRT 1340/7008).

E. On January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (the Tribunal) issued its decision (2016 CHRT 2) regarding the complaint filed in February 2007 by the Caring Society and the AFN, finding among other things that:

  • Canada’s design, management and control of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program (FNCFS), along with its corresponding funding formulas and the other related provincial/territorial agreements, have resulted in the denial of services to many First Nations children and families living on-reserve and that the FNCFS Program resulted in adverse impacts for them because it was based on flawed assumptions about First Nations communities that did not reflect the actual needs of those communities.
  • The FNCFS Program’s two main funding mechanisms incentivized removing First Nations’ children from their families.
  • INAC’s narrow interpretation and implementation of Jordan’s Principle results in service gaps, delays or denials, and overall adverse impacts on First Nations children and families on-reserve.
  • The racial discrimination arising from Canada’s provision of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program and failure to implement Jordan’s Principle is widening the historical disadvantage of residential schools.

F. Subsequent to the Tribunal’s decision, Canada unilaterally announced the budget allotments for First Nations child and family services without meaningful consultation with First Nations and unilaterally made an announcement about Jordan’s Principle without meaningful consultation with First Nations. Budget 2016 is a five year budgetary plan where $71 million is provided for child and family services for fiscal 2016/2017 and 54% of the planned funding is allocated for the year of the next federal election or the year after. This incremental budget approach fails to adequately consider children’s development and the severity of the harms posed to children by unnecessary removals from their families.

G. Such actions and impacts are inconsistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states:

  • Article 2: Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.
  • Article 22 (2): States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.
  • INAC’s narrow interpretation and implementation of Jordan’s Principle results in service gaps, delays or denials, and overall adverse impacts on First Nations children and families on-reserve.
  • The racial discrimination arising from Canada’s provision of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program and failure to implement Jordan’s Principle is widening the historical disadvantage of residential schools
  • In its decision, the Tribunal made several orders, including:
  • Cease its discriminatory practices regarding the FNCFS Program and reform the program.
  • Cease applying a narrow definition of Jordan’s Principle.
  • Take measures to immediately implement the full meaning and scope of Jordan’s Principle.
  • The Tribunal also retained jurisdiction over the complaint to allow for gathering of further information regarding the immediate and long-term remedies sought by the Caring Society and the AFN, and to seek further information regarding the compensation sought for First Nations children impacted by child welfare practices on-reserve between 2006 and January 26, 2016.

J. On April 26, 2016, the Tribunal issued a second decision (2016 CHRT 10) expressing concern with Canada’s compliance with 2016 CHRT 2 and compelling Canada to confirm implementation of Jordan’s Principle by May 10, 2016 and file detailed reports regarding its compliance with the non-discrimination order regarding First Nations Child and Family Services funding.

K. The Tribunal is expected to issue a third order on remedies in the coming weeks.

L. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to implement all 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A number of Calls to Action urge all levels of government to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in care and to provide adequate resources to support communities and child-welfare organizations in keeping families together.

M. The Tribunal’s order coupled with the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation requires that the federal government take immediate action.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Chiefs-in-Assembly:

1. Respectfully call upon the Government of Canada to:

  • Honour its commitment to fully implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations regarding children and families.
  • Take immediate and concrete actions to implement and honor the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal findings in First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada et al. v. Attorney General of Canada (2016 CHRT 2) and all subsequent orders, and implement Jordan’s Principle across all First Nations and all federal government services.
  • Allocate sufficient resources immediately to remedy the discrimination against children and their families, taking into full account the best interests of First Nations children, their vulnerability, development, and the significant harms posed by unnecessary placements in child welfare care resulting from insufficient and discriminatory prevention services.
  • Immediately and fully implement the measures outlined in the document entitled “First steps in fixing the inequities in First Nations child and family services: Immediate action reforms, Directive 20-1” and “First steps in fixing the inequities in First Nations child and family services: Immediate reforms, Enhanced Prevention Focused Approach” and “First steps in fixing the inequities in First Nations child and family services: Immediate reforms, 1965 Indian Welfare Agreement” to provide some immediate relief to the children’s suffering while the longer-term issues are resolved.
  • Cease unilateral action without consultation with First Nations and cease engaging in bi-lateral discussions with provinces and/or territories regarding First Nations children without the participation of First Nations, and fully commit to full consultation with First Nations and First Nations child and family service agencies and the parties to First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada
  • Attorney General of Canada (CHRT 1340/7008) to fully remedy the discrimination.

2. Support the revitalization of the AFN National Advisory Committee on child and family services with equal representation of First Nations across the country.

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Angie Turner62-2016 Full and Proper Implementation of the historic Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decisions in the provision of child welfare services and Jordan’s Principle

70-2016 Inequitable Funding of On Reserve Women’s Shelters

on May 8, 2017

TITLE: Inequitable Funding of On Reserve Women’s Shelters

SUBJECT: Violence against Women and Children

MOVED BY: Chief Randy Ermineskin, Ermineskin Cree Nation, AB

SECONDED BY: Chief Irvin Bull, Louis Bull First Nation, AB

DECISION Carried by Consensus

WHEREAS:

A. The Government of Canada has endorsed the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). The UN Declaration states:

  • Article 22 (2): States shall take measures, in conjunction with Indigenous Peoples, to ensure that Indigenous Women and Children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.

B. The four First Nations women’s shelters of Neepinise Family Healing Centre, Ermineskin Women’s Shelter Society, Eagle’s Nest Stoney and Sucker Creek Emergency Women’s Shelter in Treaty 6, 7 and 8 in Alberta are funded by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

C. The First Nations Women’s Shelters provide a vital component in the prevention of domestic violence and the protection of women and children in crisis within their respective communities.

D. The lack of adequate funding causes on-reserve First Nations women’s shelters to operate contrary to provincial legislation requiring two Crisis Intervention Workers (CIW) between the hours of 4:00 p.m. to midnight, as shelters can only afford one CIW at times to remain open.

E. In 2006, the federal government funded the Johnston Research Inc. Report that included recommendations from the First Nation’s shelter directors, including a formula for increased funding.

F. In 2011, the Moving Forward! Planning for Self Determination Johnston Research Inc. Report found that on-reserve First Nations shelters were underfunded by 50 percent, compared to off-reserve shelters.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Chiefs-in-Assembly:

1. Direct the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to respectfully call upon the Government of Canada to:

  • Address the funding shortfall of on-reserve First Nations somen’s shelters as compared to off-reserve women’s shelters.
  • To ensure Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada staff work with the on-reserve First Nations women’s shelter directors to develop a new funding formula that reflects the actual costs to run viable, safe and legislatively compliant shelters, and to ensure annual increases in cost-of-living are factored in the formula.
  • Implement the recommendations in the 2006 and 2011 Johnson Research Inc. Reports to ensure the funding formula for on-reserve First Nations women’s shelters is predicable, sufficient and sustainable.

2. Direct the AFN to report back to Chiefs-in-Assembly on the progress of this work at the 2017 Annual General Assembly.

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Angie Turner70-2016 Inequitable Funding of On Reserve Women’s Shelters

39-2016 First Nations National Working Group on Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC)

on May 7, 2017

TITLE: First Nations National Working Group on Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC)

SUBJECT: Education

MOVED BY: Chief Maureen Chapman, Skawahlook First Nation, BC

SECONDED BY: Chief David Crate, Fisher River Cree Nation, MB

DECISION Carried by Consensus

WHEREAS:

A. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:

  • Article 21: Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security.

B. The 2016 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s report also urges the federal government as part of its reconciliation agenda to work with Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for young children and their families.

C. In November 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mandated the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to launch consultations with provinces and territories and Indigenous Peoples on a National Early Learning and Childcare Framework as a first step towards delivering affordable, high-quality, flexible and fully inclusive child care..

D. A March 2016 budget commitment of $100 million for Indigenous communities beginning in 2017-18 provides First Nations with an unprecedented opportunity to identify priorities, strategies and actions for improving access to quality early childhood and other family strengthening supports while developing First Nations capacity to re-assume control of early childhood and child care pursuant to their inherent and human rights.

E. Few early childhood development and child care policies have been created by the federal government since the mid-1990’s. Policies to support young First Nations children and families are in valuable and have the potential to transform the lives of children, families and communities. However, the lack of a comprehensive policy or funding approach has resulted in limited and unequal access to programs and comprised the quality and effectiveness of those programs. Yet there is increasing scientific evidence from the United States regarding the effectiveness of quality ECD programs in increasing high school graduation rates and improved health outcomes, reduced incidence of substance abuse, and fewer criminal arrests among children who attended these programs.

F. A strong policy approach supported by First Nations leadership and informed by community and stakeholders from health, early childhood education, child and family services and education, offers a real opportunity to transform and shape early childhood development, education and care policies to ensure First Nations children aged from birth to six years and their families are supported to achieve optimal health, development and well-being.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Chiefs-in-Assembly:
1. Direct the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), National Chief and Executive Committee to obtain funding from Canada to immediately establish a national expert working group on Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC), comprised of experts from across disciplines of health, education, child and family services and early childhood, with a mandate to oversee a 4-6 month community engagement process that would identify and confirm the key principles, priorities and actions of a First Nations ELCC framework along with an action plan that takes into account regional priorities, needs and circumstances.

2. Request the AFN National Chief and Executive Committee to:

  • Strongly advocate in writing to Ministers Bennett and Duclos for a separate First Nations ELCC framework and funding stream; and
  • Collaborate with the federal government on an accountability framework to ensure current and future investments in early learning and child care reach the children and families who need them.

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Angie Turner39-2016 First Nations National Working Group on Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC)

Social Development

on June 25, 2015

Social Development

Healthy, safe and sustainable First Nations communities through an inclusive, holistic and culturally-based social development system that promotes First Nations control and jurisdiction.

Our Vision

  • An ongoing partnership between First Nations and the Federal/Provincial/Territorial governments to ensure a continuum of quality, culturally-relevant services, and;

  • A comprehensive, integrated social development approach that includes capacity development at the community level.

FEDERAL BUDGET

2017

On March 22, 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau tabled his second budget. Budget 2017 included $39.2 million for Youth Case Management (a component of the on-reserve Income Assistance program) and $7 billion over 10 years for early learning and child care, of which $130 million is targeted for Indigenous early learning and child care, starting in 2018-2019. Budget 2017 also included an investment of $118.5 million over five years to support Indigenous peoples living in urban centres.

2016

On March 22, 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau tabled his first federal budget. An historic $8.4 billion over 5 years in investments have been made on Indigenous issues. Specifically, the federal budget invested $635 million over 5 years for First Nations child welfare. Additionally, budget 2016 identified $100 million for Indigenous early learning and child care.

EARLY LEARNING AND CHILD CARE

The Trudeau Government committed to establishing a National Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework. Budget 2016 & 2017 included new funding to support these efforts. The Prime Minister’s mandate letter to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development instructed the Minister to “Work with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to launch consultations with provinces and territories and Indigenous Peoples on a National Early Learning and Childcare Framework as a first step towards delivering affordable, high-quality, flexible and fully inclusive child care.” The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada received a similar mandate.

At the 2016 AFN Annual General Assembly in Niagara Falls, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed AFN Resolution 39/2016 which directed the AFN to obtain funding to establish a national expert working group on ELCC which would oversee a 4-6 month community engagement process. This process would support the identification and confirmation of key principles, priorities and actions of a First Nations ELCC framework along with an action plan that takes into account regional priorities, needs and circumstances. Through the AFN Social Development unit and the AFN Regional Offices, representatives for the National Expert Working Group on ELCC have been identified and the working group has met twice. The meetings have provided for further establishment of the working group’s mandate, coordination of regional engagement and an approach for developing the First Nation component of the National Indigenous ELCC Framework.

NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON CHILD WELFARE (NAC)

On February 23, 2007 the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society filed a Canadian Human Rights complaint alleging Canada is discriminating against First Nations children in the provision of on reserve child welfare. On January 26, 2016 the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) confirmed that the federal government is discriminating against First Nation children. AFN resolution #62/2016 mandated the AFN to re-establish the NAC with the goal of advising on the reform of INAC’s child welfare program.

The NAC is a joint advisory body consisting of regional First Nation child welfare experts, the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society and the Federal Government. The NAC is chaired by Grand Chief Ed John. For background information on the Tribunal rulings and the NAC please refer to the resources section below.

Contact Social Development Staff

Jonathan Thompson
Director


Lorna Martin
Administrative Assistant


Hillory Tenute
Sr. Policy Analyst


Donnie Garrow
Policy Analyst


Jessica Quinn
Jr. Policy Analyst


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rdbrinkhurstSocial Development

Family Violence Prevention

on April 4, 2012

Mandate

Resolution no. 49/2006 was signed during the 2006 Annual General Assembly on July 31, 2006. It concerned adequate consultation with First Nations on the Family Violence Prevention Program formula. There continues to be a need for increased resources to improve/build shelters and for family violence prevention.

Issue

Family Violence is a prevalent issue in First Nations communities.  We know that Aboriginal women are three times as likely to experience violence as their non-Aboriginal counterparts.   Many of those Aboriginal women are First Nations women.

Sadly, violence is an issue that affects First Nations families and communities as a whole.  This issue is not only restricted to physical violence, it also includes mental, sexual, spiritual, or emotional violence and bullying, whether it is experienced or perpetrated by a(n): Extended family member (cousin, aunt or uncle, etc.); Elder; Child; Same-sex partner; Female partner, or; other member of the community.

Within AFN Social Development, our focus has been connecting the violence prevention initiatives within and among AFN Secretariats on areas such as: Injury Prevention, Mental Wellness, Justice, Indian Residential Schools, and Social.  In addition, keeping up to date on the most recent in the area of violence prevention, violence against First Nations (and Aboriginal) women, and promising practices in violence prevention.

The AFN has supported the AFN Women’s Council in the extensive work that they have done on preventing violence towards First Nations women.  For more information on their initiatives, please see the Women’s Council portion of AFN website.

The Assembly of First Nations has provided input and analysis on policies that support the prevention of violence in First Nations communities.  More specifically, the AFN has participated in activities under the Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) funded by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC).

AANDC’s Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) funds programs and services to address family violence on-reserve, this funding includes:

  •     Operational funding for family crisis shelters
  •     Funding for community prevention projects
  •     Funding to the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence (NACAFV)

The FVPP rests within the AANDC Social Policy and Programs Directorate, which also includes Child and Family Services and the Assisted Living Program.  All of the work that the Social Policy and Programs does touches the lives of communities, families and individuals directly.

For more information on this program, visit: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/hb/sp/fvp-eng.asp

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rdbrinkhurstFamily Violence Prevention

Income Assistance

on March 14, 2012

What Is Income Assistance?

All Canadian provinces maintain a program of income support, sometimes referred to as “social assistance” or “income assistance” with the purpose of alleviating extreme poverty by providing a monthly payment to people with little or no income.

To support low-income First Nations, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) developed the Income Assistance Program as one of five social development programs offered by the department. Its broad objective is to provide individuals and families with the means to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. In addition, when funding permits, AANDC has the authority to support pre-employment activities such as counselling, education upgrading and life skills training, among others.

AANDC follows the terms and conditions of other provincial and territorial general assistance programs. While it may deliver its income assistance program directly, the Department has largely devolved the program so that its activities consist primarily of providing funding to First Nations who in turn deliver programs and services to community members. In 2006-2007, 534 First Nations administered their own income assistance programming.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has been very active in income assistance programming, collaborating with different levels of government and establishing its own projects to explore the development of income assistance for First Nations in Canada. In partnership with officials at AANDC and the First Nations Income Assistance Working Group (FNIAWG), the AFN social development team continues to work toward the improvement of income assistance-related programs, projects and services for First Nations individuals, families and communities through research, participation in the program’s accountability activities, and development of best practices, lessons learned and other policy-driving information.

The AFN & Income Assistance

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) considers income assistance one of its top social development strategic priorities. The AFN’s overall objective for its income assistance-related activities for 2010-2011 was:

The AFN Social Development team, INAC  officials and the First Nations Income Assistance Working Group (FNIAWG), will work towards the improvement of income assistance related programs, projects and services for First Nations individuals, families and communities through research, participation in the program’s accountability activities, and development of best practices, lessons learned and other policy driving information.

1Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was renamed by the federal government in 2011 and is referred to as Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC). Neither the structure nor the responsibilities of the department were altered as a result of the name change.


During 2010-2011, the AFN convened a meeting of the FNIAWG and participated in the Active Measures conference hosted by the First Nations Social Development Society in Vancouver. This meeting highlighted a number of priority areas for the FNIAWG and AFN:

  • Active measures;
  • Youth issues and engagement;
  • Authorities renewal; and,
  • A national learning event for First Nations.

While both the AFN and the FNIAWG were not invited to any federal discussions related to income assistance or active measures during this time, it is acknowledged that part of this lack of communication is due to high rates of turnover at AANDC.

The AFN also engaged with both the Elders Council and the National Youth Council to advance work related to income assistance in the areas of senior and veteran income assistance as well as active measures for youth. In collaboration with the FNIAWG, the AFN social development team worked on developing recommended actions on the Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) programs.

Into 2012, the AFN will continue to collaborate with the FNIAWG and AANDC to ensure that income assistance programming specific to First Nations is relevant and effective, meeting the needs of all First Nations eligible to access these funds and resources.

Active Measures

Active measures are activities and processes that help an income assistance client become more self-sufficient, access the labour market and help First Nations community members break the cycle of dependency on income assistance. These measures may include assessment and pre-employment programs, life skills, accessible child care services, and training and employment incentives for employers both on and off reserve.

Increasingly, the AFN and the FNIAWG continue to advance work in the area of active measures. A barrier at this time to the success of active measures programming is a lack of funding and current budget restrictions. Growing costs of administering income assistance in general has left little room to expand the delivery of new programs and activities in the area of active measures.

An example of such an active measure is access to child care. In order to break the income assistance cycle of dependency, it is important that First Nations parents be able to access quality care for their children so that they may work or study. Not only is this essential for the parents’ ability to maintain employment or complete their education, but access to quality child care has proven crucial to childhood development.
The AFN recognizes the persistent gap between the services offered by the income assistance program to First Nations communities and the real needs of community members currently dependent upon income assistance. In order to overcome this gap, the AFN continues to advocate for increased funding and effective programming to break the cycle of dependency.

Income Assistance & Youth

There has been a growing concern among First Nations leadership with regard to the rising number of First Nations youth that rely on income assistance as a primary source of income. In 2008, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the First Nations Income Assistance Working Group (FNIAWG) identified this concern as a top priority issue to be addressed in their ongoing work.

As a result, the AFN Youth Income Assistance Draft Action Plan was developed. Due to a loss of funding for the AFN Social Secretariat in 2009-2010, this work was put on hold.

At the Special Chiefs Assembly in December 2010, resolution 74/2010 was passed, calling for the AFN to address the First Nations youth cycle of dependency on income assistance.

On February 12, 2011, the National Youth Dialogue on Income Assistance was held in Vancouver. The outcome of this important gathering was a ten minute video on youth perspective on income assistance. The video, “Investing in Social Change for Future Generations,” was distributed at the Gathering Our Voices Conference 2011 in Prince Rupert, an event that welcomed over 1000 Aboriginal youth delegates.

Rather than translating the video developed during the youth gathering held in Vancouver, a similar dialogue session was held in Quebec with First Nations francophone youth who were currently, or had recently been, receiving income assistance. Held on February 19-20, 2011, two youth from each francophone First Nations community in Quebec attended the meeting in Sept-Iles and contributed to a 5-minute video.

Income Assistance & Seniors/Veterans

On February 23-24, 2011, the AFN Elders Council and the First Nations Veterans Working Group met with the AFN social development team and the FNIAWG in Calgary. The purpose of this gathering was to identify issues and develop a draft set of recommended actions on Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplements (GIS).

This meeting was a successful initiative that highlighted opportunities for the improvement of take-up and access to the benefits of OAS and GIS programs for First Nations Elders, veterans and seniors.

First Nations Income Assistance Working Group (FNIAWG)

The First Nations Income Assistance Working Group (FNIAWG) was formed to develop and implement the Social Development Policy Framework (SDPF) Income Assistance Action Plan. This working group and its activities were endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations at its Annual General Assembly in July 2008 (see Resolution 12/2008).

Since its development, the FNIAWG priority areas include:

  • Regional negotiations and implementation of active measures, including those at a community level;
  • A youth strategy for income assistance and breaking the cycle of dependency;
  • Special areas of impact from the Income Assistance program, including shelter allowances and housing, inadequacies surrounding Old Age Security (OAS), and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for First Nations Elders;
  • Income Assistance program evaluation and audits;
  • Required research in areas such as active measures and youth-specific activities, supports and services, as well as research to justify the “ask” for increased resources and authorities to improve the Income Assistance program; and,
  • Information sharing of best practices of active measures to assist regions in developing their own measures and prevention strategies.
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